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New call for condom machines in schools

Ben McPartland · 5 Apr 2013, 11:17

Published: 05 Apr 2013 11:17 GMT+02:00

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Pierre Bergé, president of Sidaction (Aids action) has asked the Minister of Education to take steps to make sure condoms are freely available in Lyceés and colleges across France.

“I ask the government, when are we finally going to have free condoms in schools? And when we are going to have proper sex education for Aids?,” Bergé told RTL.

The charity's president is not the first to demand contraceptives be freely available to youngsters in French schools.

The idea was first put forward as far back as 1992, and in 2006 a government circular proposed the installation of vending machines in schools, but it has not been widely implemented.

Where machines have been installed in schools, pupils are often required to pay for them.

“Today in some schools, if a teenager wants a condom, they have to go and ask the nurse.  That’s an easy thing to do, as you can imagine,” said Bergé sarcastically.

Vincent Peillon, the Minister of Education appears to be onside, and has accepted that France “needs to find a way to do better” on the issue of youngsters accessing contraceptives.

However, not all school health workers are convinced, and some believe free distribution of condoms would simply play into the hands of school trouble makers.

“We often see the school yard littered with condoms that have been used as water bombs,” a school nurse called Martine told Europe1 radio.

She believes going through a school medical professional is still the best way for youngsters to get hold of contraceptives.

“The students never read how to use a condom. We are able to show them,” she added.

Some in the teaching profession also doubt the worth of the machines.

The headteacher of one Paris school with a condom machine told Le Figaro: “The usefulness of these machines is limited. We hardly ever need to restock them because students dare not buy them on school premises.”

Home test kits authorised

Story continues below…

Another measure to battle the spread of Aids that the French government announced it will implement is the introduction of HIV test kits that can be used at home.

There are an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 living in France who are infected with HIV but have no idea. This group of people are in turn believed to responsible for 70 percent of new cases of HIV each year.

France's National Council of Aids says home test kits could prevent 400 new infections each year.

The country's Health Minister Marisol Touraine gave the green light on Friday to authorize the use of the home kits.

It is expected they will soon be available to buy just as in the United States.

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

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